This David Byrne/”Once in a Lifetime”-themed trailer for Oliver Stone‘s W. is, make no mistake, brilliant — an award-level advertisement if I ever saw one. Is this a Tim Palin original or did an outside agency throw it together? TV junket press saw W. last weekend. Print/online showings will almost certainly be this week.
Luhrman is a fever-pitch, headstrong, first-rate director — one of the dependable visionaries in this business. The finely crafted script tells a rousing, big-canvas, primary-colors story that’s set in the World War II era. And the movie is clearly looking to deliver an eye-filling, epic-sized experience with a mostly realistic (i.e., not too much CG) brush.
The only uncertainty is whether or not the Nicole Kidman marquee factor, which hasn’t been working in recent years and has in fact put her at the top of Forbes’ list of overpaid stars, might get in the way. Costar Hugh Jackman is a solid bloke in my book, but take away the Wolverine knife blades and he’s seen as second-tier — or am I wrong? He has a following among over-30 women, or so I’ve read.
I hate it when trailers tell you everything about a movie except the final beat, so you’d think I’d be receptive to the plot vagueness in this recently posted trailer for Seven Pounds, the Will Smith movie coming out on 12.19. But it bothered me. “What’s going on here?” I was saying to myself. I got the part about Smith being shattered by something he did and wanting to help others in a kind of Pay It Forward vein, but what’s the shot?
You have to search around on the Seven Pounds IMDB page — among the reader comments, I mean — to understand what’s really going on. Which I did. So now I know.
The first assumption you might have is that the title refers to a birth weight. Nope. It alludes to the term “pound of flesh” from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (i.e., Shylock’s demand that Antonio literally surrender a pound of his own flesh if he fails to pay a monetary date by a certain date). Thematically it refers to seeking atonement for a terrible deed, and specifically it refers to Smiths’ character looking to do good things for seven deserving people, and falling for one of them, a lady with a heart condition played by Rosario Dawson.
For some reason I was reminded of a line spoken to Malcolm McDowell‘s Alex in a prison scene from A Clockwork Orange. He’s talking about morality to the rotund minister/priest, and says at one point, “I don’t know about the whys and wherefores, father — I only know I want to be good.”
The director is Gabrielle Muccino, who directed Smith in last year’s Pursuit of Happyness. The script is by Grant Nieporte.
L.A. Times reporter Steven Braun reported yesterday that “soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska” — in 1997 — “she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago.”
Last night MTV.com guy Josh Horowitz reported that if and when Nottingham ever gets made, director Ridley Scott intends to have Russell Crowe play both the Sheirff of Nottingham and Robin Hood. Scott revealed that Crowe will be “playing both!” to MTV News during a Body of Lies junket interview over the weekend. Scott explained that Crowe’s dual roles would be “a good old clever adjustment of characters. One becomes the other. It changes.” This isn’t just a terrible idea — it’s an embarassing one. Unless Scott was having Horowitz off.
West Hollywood Book Fair — Sunday, 9.29.08, 1:35 pm
Dinner party at home of cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko and editor David Scott Smith (i.e., the couple profiled in this HE story about a short film they made called On A Tuesday) — Saturday, 9.28.08, 9:25 pm. That’s American Cinematographer exec editor Stephen Pizzello (partially obscured) sitting on the white bamboo-rattan gazebo chair.
“It’s just the ultimate hustle. It’s just selling an invisible product, and so if I can be Toto in The Wizard of Oz pulling back the curtain, which is how I see religion, great, that’s fine, I’ll do that and get off the stage. I’m not looking to be the anti-messiah.” — Religulous producer-star Bill Maher speaking to N.Y. Times writer John Leland.
Religulous producer-star Bill Maher, director Larry Charles
13 months ago Michael Cera, the 19 year-old costar of the just-opened Superbad, was suddenly the Guy of the Moment — a cool new GenY talent who embodied a very dry, droll and witty comic mentality, which was also evident in Clark and Michael, his co-created web series. And yet today — don’t laugh — I’m getting a feeling that Cera may be two or three steps from being over.
I’m not saying this is in the cards, and I’m not saying I don’t enjoy Cera’s comic sensibility — I do. But if he is in fact on the brink of being over (which is to say completely done within two or three years), the two main reasons are (a) he’s already repeating himself and (b) his aversion to being famous, hard to swallow from a guy who’s been acting since he was 10 or 11 years old, is profoundly tiresome. Nobody has time for that sensitive “poor me because I’m rich and famous” shit. I don’t, I can tell you.
Three months after Superbad opened — early September, or a little more than a year ago — Juno played the Telluride Film Festival and there was Cera again, playing more or less the same Superbad character but without Jonah Hill to play off and minus the great rapier-wit lines. And then his latest film, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony, 10.3), played the Toronto Film Festival, and again people — okay, a big-city critic-journalist I spoke with just before travelling to Toronto — said Cera is more or less playing the Superbad guy again and that he needs to expand his repertoire.
When I passed this observation along to some journalists friends at the beginning of the festival, one of them joked about Cera,”That settles it — we need to take this guy down.”
I’m not trying to take Cera or anyone else down, but I am saying — observing — that the window of coolness and hotness seems to be getting shorter and shorter these days, and that Cera may soon find himself a victim of this syndrome. If he doesn’t pull something new out of his hat, I mean. The fact that one guy has already begun to tire of Cera’s act may sound ludicrous, but it also suggests that perhaps he is playing the same tune over and over.
Cera, Kat Dennings in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
I’m not voicing this view myself (I haven’t seen Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and I personally can’t wait for Youth in Revolt) but…well, I did begin to think this a little bit when I saw Cera in Juno. I said to myself, “Okay, fine, whatever…this again.” I’m presuming others had this thought, no?
Now comes a N.Y. Times interview, conducted and written by Katrina Onstad during the Toronto Film Festival, in which Cera “sat rod straight and used the phrase ‘I don’t know’ 48 times in one hour.” Being a veteran of hundreds of interviews, I can tell you that a person who says “I don’t know” once or twice during a chat is most likely just being frank, but a guy who says it 48 times is — trust me — being deliberately obstinate.
“I don’t really want to be famous, and I’m kind of scared that might be happening,” Cera told Onstad. “I might really have to stop and think before I make decisions now, and see how they’re going to affect my life, and see if it’s what I want to be doing with my life. I guess I need to make sure that it’s worth all that comes with it.”
I have to be honest and admit that my first reaction when I read the above was, “That’s it — he’s written his epitaph.” But then I remembered that this is the same thing Leonardo DiCaprio was saying in the wake of Titanic and that he eventually got past that, so maybe Cera will also. Or maybe he’ll quit acting down the road and become a director-writer-producer — i.e., the next Judd Apatow. But I do feel some kind of downshift coming a year or two hence.
A guy who’s starred or co-starred in two movies that made $143 million and $121 million in the same year (i.e., Superbad and Juno) has built up loads of credit and good will, but sooner or later the world gives the hook to repetitive weenies.
This two-day old CNN clip has gotten around, but it has something new I missed on Friday. Jack Cafferty‘s rant about Sarah Palin is angry but unexceptional — he’s expressing a fairly common reaction to Palin’s performance during her recent Katie Couric interview. What stands out is Cafferty’s rebuke of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer when the latter tries to explain away Palin’s shoddy performance due to having had to cram in a lot of information in a short time frame.
- Most Engaging, Agreeable Spielberg Flick In 20 Years
Speaking as one who’s had problems with Steven Spielberg films (or at least with the manipulative lather and chain-pullings that...More »
- Duke Scowls From Above As MGM CEO Gary Barber Ignores Malignant Neglect of 70mm Alamo Elements
This morning I read a 6.9 profile of MGM CEO Gary Barber by Deadline‘s Peter Bart (“A Resurgent MGM Builds...More »